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I'm going to pick up where I left off. .. last year.

November 3, 2021.

I cried almost nonstop the whole day.

I cannot remember the last time I cried on my birthday and ironically it had nothing to do with my actual day.

Far from it.

That morning I scheduled my daughter at the orthodontist. The appointment was made a month prior and truly was supposed to be an exciting addition to my birthday. Her braces were due to be removed. She was excited, I was excited. It was going to be the icing on the cake.

We arrived on time and per the norm, she went in and I waited in the car. I had a book, texts and phone calls to reply to. A fresh cup of coffee in my travel mug. There was no shortage of things to occupy me.

I watched her walk into the office and I settled in. As I was taking a sip and dialing to return a phone message my daughter beeped in on the call waiting. I ended my outgoing call and accepted hers. "What's up?"

She blurted out how they were refusing to remove her braces because we had a balance due of $1400. She went on to explain that she told them that we dealt with this last month and it should have been taken care of. I asked who was there with her and to put them on the phone.

The man who got on the phone introduced himself as the Office Manager. This is a person I have never met and didn't exist last month. He admitted to only have started two weeks prior.

The biggest challenge I've faced over the last two years is the constant turn over of staff.

Much to my dismay, after our contract was signed and the braces put on my child's teeth, I slowly found bit by bit, month by month, just how poorly run this office is.

So new Mr. Office Manager (OM) says to me that my child's braces will not be removed until our bill is paid in full. As calmly as I could muster I explained that this account was paid in full last July. I have a receipt, an email sent to me from the practice.

I showed this paid in full letter to the desk clerk last month, who, by the way, is no longer employed there. We wouldn't have been able to make this appointment without it.

You see this was an issue last month. An issue that should have been resolved. And frankly, if it wasn't resolved why was I not called? Where was a letter, due bill or phone call to make sure it was settled before my child was standing there in front of you today?

OM didn't have much to say expect to repeat that until this account was settled my daughter's braces would stay put. I asked for his manager and when he tried to tell me "He" was the Office Manager I kindly reminded him that there is someone above him who deals with billing as well as the doctor of the practice herself.

Oh yah, them.

I told him to send my daughter out to the car.

I did a quick search through the email on my phone and found the paid in full letter and walked into the practice. I recognized no one at the front desk. The OM pointed to an office off to the side that belonged to the billing manager.

We stood there and waited. When Ms. Billing came out she was blunt. Her voice and tone accused me of being a deadbeat who doesn't pay my bills. "Your account is not fully paid". I tried to show her the "Paid in Full" receipt but she stated that wasn't good enough. She wanted me to show her every receipt of payment.

I said " So if I go home and get all of our receipts, bring them back and prove that you have all of the money we were responsible for per our contract, you'll have my daughters braces taken off?" She said yes.

On the drive home I called my husband and told him to pull all of the receipts.

At home I made a mad dash through the files, printing payments, arranging them and driving back to the Orthodontist office only to be met with yet more resistance and insults.

Ms. Billing proceeded to accuse me now of not paying my credit card bill that was used to pay the bill for the last year and a half. "Your credit card statement doesn't say Paid In Full. How do I know that your card didn't refuse a payment to us or that it's still outstanding?"

"Because it has a zero balance, which clearly shows no money is due."

She refused to sit down with me to look over my receipts and insisted that I could sit in the lobby while she looked over my paperwork. Privately. Without me.

That was it. I lost it.

My voice began to raise. With each word it increased a decibel. So much that she threatened to have me removed. "This is a medical office."

"Yes, with a poor customer service"

I was then instructed to make an appointment for the following week at one of their other offices to go over my "billing issues" Nothing was going to be done today.

I have lost count how many times I have told them to call me or send me a letter regarding any kind of communication. This is literally the only medical office I have dealt with that has:

1) No voicemail, text or email appointment reminder service

2)Has no mail or email monthly billing or receipt service

3)Has no problem speaking to a 14 year old child regarding payments and billing yet refuses to contact the parent to resolve any issue.

4) Doesn't return phones calls

As a side note. I shouldn't have been surprised that their billing was completely fucked up. Truly. When we began in 2020 I walked in and paid every month in person and got a receipt. They offered autopay, so I filled out the paperwork, but for months it never took hold. After a few more staff changes they offered it again and I filled out the same paperwork. The second attempt seem to take - Yay! But guess what? Fast forward to July 2021 when my husband was looking over the bills and noticed the autopay hadn't taken a payment (checks notes)...since February. He picked up the phone and called them. The excuse was "Oops, we migrated to a new system and you must have been dropped off."

"Ok, but don't you want your money?"

"Oh no problem, we can just put the balance on the back side of the agreement and it will just take a little longer to complete it."

My husband doesn't work that way. He's a planner, a budgeter and he was over their hiccups in business. "What's the balance due on the contract? I'll pay it off today."

Back to the tears that started and wouldn't stop.

Stress is a funny thing.

You never know when you're going to break.

Hit your max.

Crumble into a teary eyed mess.

Ms. Billing had no idea that it was my birthday. She didn't know that I had been burdened with ongoing medical issues for the last 3 years and she certainly didn't know that inside of me was the weight of the world because my husband was having surgery to remove cancer the very next day.

Not many people knew but there was pressure building up inside of me.

As we prepared for his surgery and recovery I told myself "Everything will be fine". And while I whole heartly believed it I continued to exert far more energy than I had stored up. I was constantly forcing myself to function with negative spoons. I kept telling myself that all I had to do was get him home safe and sound and then I would rest. That's when I will slow down and recover.

One more task, One more thing checked off the to-do list, One more appointment....until the orthodontist office simply pushed me off the ledge I was barely hanging onto by a thread.

My daughter was concerned as I began to weep. She brought me tissues and assured me that it was ok to have her braces on a little longer. No big deal mom.

She probably thought I was overreacting just a bit since she herself wasn't wearing her disappointment for all to see. But being who I am, I pride myself on logic and understanding human behavior, so I launched into a discussion about mental health. In between tears and blowing my nose I talked about knowing your limits, balance of responsibilities, prioritizing and all of the emotional baggage that comes with being human. Adulting brings many challenges and responsibilities but mental stability in the face of high stress or adversity presents another layer.

I had hit my limit. I was fully aware that with each tear that fell that I was shedding a droplet of the stress I had been carrying around for months. The diagnosis. The follow up tests. The consultations. The impending surgery.

Reliving my diagnosis, my experience.

Trying to be strong for my husband and children.

It would be unrealistic for me to cry over a billing issue. I knew that the billing snafu would be resolved.. and it was, to the fault of the Orthodontist who's previous biller fat fingered two claims to the insurance company leaving them unpaid.

It is not unrealistic to overreact to something seemingly small when you have no room left in your cup.

There is so much talk about mental health and we all deal, balance, cope differently. Some days better than others. Some rests better, longer than the ones before.

We are never empty. Our thoughts and emotions always have something brewing, processing the incoming tasks and information.

Sometimes we get plowed over.

You are not alone. You are just human.

Plowed. by Sponge.

In a world of human wreckage

Where I'm lost and I'm found and I can't touch the ground

I'm plowed into the sound.

Say a prayer for me.


PS: My husband came through with flying colors. He is on the mend and will not require chemo or radiation. We are beyond grateful.

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Let me hear your body talk....

If your body could actually talk what do you think it would say?

I'm thinking that mine would scream, rather than speak. Loudly rather than at a level tone and it would sound something like "What in the Sam Hill is going on around here?"

I've been open about the fact that my continuing illness has been literally weighing me down. If it isn't fatigue, it's weight gain. If it isn't weight gain its pain in my foot, my hand, my shoulder, and back....I'm sure you get the point.

Lately, however, I have been more mobile, active and upright.

And this is beyond exciting for a girl that was nearly bedridden.

When people ask how I’m doing.

In my voice you can feel the hope.

I go to occupational and physical therapy twice a week in addition to senior citizen “chair yoga” on Tuesday.

I am literally on the threshold of becoming the shittiest, most brokenness version of my old self.

And that’s a 5000% improvement.

No lie.

Spoonies get it.

So the answer to the question is “things are pretty good with me.”

How did I get here and what can lay claim to this victory shuffle around the kitchen island?

1 -More thyroid meds

2-Physical Therapy and Dry-Needling.

For anyone who is on thyroid meds you know the struggle that goes with finding balance and your optimal labs. Mine aren't optimal yet but certainly improved. If you suspect you are being under medicated please speak to another doctor and not the one that is under medicating you.

In other words: Get another opinion, or two.

At the end of the day you are your own best advocate. You are the only person living in your body. Stand up, even if it's only verbally, for yourself.

I've lost count of the number of medical staff/practitioners, some not so professional, who have told me, to get better, all I need to do it walk more and take up swimming. They are positive that these two exercises alone will do wonders for someone like me who has been sedentary longer than any person should be.

"Keep moving", they say.

"But it hurts", I say, A lot.

And walking is hard when there is an indescribable amount of pain with each step.

I finally had enough energy to make a visit to the podiatrist. He couldn't believe I was spending my life not being able to walk. He was offended that no one had suggested I visit him.

I get it but honestly if this was low on my priority list you can imagine how bad the other pain was that took precedence.

It turns out that I have tendinitis in my left foot.

He made some adjustments to my shoes, well only the left ones, but both sets, and then I purchased some of the ugliest recovery sandals on the market and now I can almost walk again. I had forgotten that it could be pleasurable.

If that wasn't amazing in itself, you know, walking, a miracle occurred.

Ok, maybe not a miracle, I exaggerate, it was actually my NP, who kicks ass, who said, now that my meds have been adjusted and we've seen some of the fatigue drop off and the mobility increase "I think it's time for Physical and Occupational Therapy."

Yes, Please.

If you've never been, I highly recommend it.

If it's been a million years, try to find someone to send you back.

Game changer.

At the first appointment my therapist did an evaluation on me.

Guess what? Walking and swimming are never gonna fix what is wrong with me.

The muscles in and around my hips, lower back and pelvic have quit. Like literally not working. There are other muscles who have also opted out of working too but these are the biggest culprits to my pain.

Created just for me, I now have a series of exercises that are specifically made to get those muscles firing again.

Broken body meet pelvic tilts, bridges, clam shells and marches. All of these are done laying on my back.

Every week I have exercises that I do at home as well as a few additional that I do at PT. Some are standing, squatting or stretching.

My therapist also does muscle manipulation to work on stubborn spots.

In addition to my PT therapist I have an OT therapist who's job is to work on and hopefully improve the pain, tendinitis, in my left hand. This gnawing pain has been present for almost a year. Over time the pain has progressed from my thumb and wrist area to shooting straight up my forearm, taking over my elbow and like a lightening rod up my bicep ending in my shoulder.

Fun, right?

A customized brace was made for my hand that I wear everyday and I have special hand exercises I do three times a day too.

I am happy to report that after eight weeks the pain has retreated and sits only in my hand and is milder than it once was.


My back, pelvic, and hips continue to be a challenge. It's not to say I have had no success but improvement had been at a much slower rate.

These exercises, that I do, have done something because my recovery time, from said exercises, has shown great progress. What used take four or five days to recover from now only takes two or three.

And while this recovery isn't pain free, it just sort of brings me back to my standard regular daily rate of pain.

It's hard to explain, but I'm better-ish.

Enter Dry-needling.

For years I have tried to get acupuncture. I have been told how beneficial it could possibly be for someone like me, in the condition I am in, but I have been unsuccessful.

Insurance, my insurance, won't cover it unless I have that disease that makes you sweat profusely, from every orifice of your body, uncontrollably. No Thanks.

If you pay out of pocket it can get super pricy for the initial consult and evaluation before the actual weekly sessions. $$$

And with every conversation and every recommendation not one person ever thought to recommend dry-needling, until my NP and my PT therapist.

Seriously, It is the western version of acupuncture. Same needle, different application.

And....drum roll....covered by my insurance.

Sign me up.

I had my first application last week and OMG! I got up from the table and was without pain in that one area for the first time in over 20 years.

20 years people. For real, 20 years. I have been to D.O.s, chiropractors and massage therapists since my first car accident a million lifetimes ago. Nothing has ever taken the pain completely away. Ever.

"I", raise my right hand, "declare that I'd like to volunteer to be a human pin cushion."

If that little bit is any indication of the relief I can feel then feel free to poke me with those needles everywhere.

All over my body.



This is what small improvements look like.

I still have a long way to go but I'm going and that's the most I can do for myself right now.

I get up everyday and keep trying.

I've said it before, It's like learning to be human again.

I hope you guys are doing good out there.

Stay safe, keep showing up and kicking ass!



to get you in the mood,

in case you felt like singing along

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Mine. I'm talking about mine, not yours.

No worries. I am not pointing fingers at anyone.... except for me.

There is a story that I share in my book about the time I was helping my daughter dry her hair.

When it got to the point when she turned around to face me, with her head tilted up, she peered out at me through strands of hair and said,

"Mom, are you crying?"

Eyebrow raised, "No, why?"

Pointing at me, "there's something wrong with your eye, it's all red"

I immediately put down the hair blower and brush and rushed over to the mirror. Sure enough my right eye had a large blood red splatter with hairline tentacles seeping out from it.

My first reaction was "What in holy hell now?" What could possibly be breaking or falling apart on this godforsaken body of mine? I truly cannot handle another medical challenge.

The more I looked at it the more my brain started working through the catalog of information I had accumulated through my years on this earth. Is it a sty? What is a sty? Bloodshot? No, it's more than being bloodshot....

Hmmm, it's entirely possible that I blew a blood vessel. And, now that I think about it, I remember feeling like a bug flew into my eye hail on a windshield.

I grabbed my phone, did a quick google search and found that not only is it common but you can break a blood vessel just by sneezing or coughing too strongly.

Huh, I'm stunned I haven't had one before this.

Reading on, There is no treatment and you should recover within two weeks. No medical exam is necessary unless you have pain.

Ok. Good, well I can deal with that.

Whew, crisis averted.

I often think about how my instant first reaction was negative, completely "glass half empty" thinking. I know it occurred during a time when I was already at my limit, feeling untethered and drifting aimlessly, that made it difficult to react calmer at the onset.

And I did come around, although it was much slower than I used to.

Which I think is the crux of my self disappointment.

I normally have a faster response time with common sense.

I see, now more than ever before, that in my life, general health and well being or lack thereof, effects not just how fast, or slow, I react with my sight, hearing or limbs but with my mental ability to process things I already know.

So fast forward... to a couple of weeks ago. The skin under my left armpit began to itch, like a rash. At first I thought that maybe my razor was old, rusting possibly? I opted to not shave for a few days to see if it cleared up. But it didn't.

After another shower I applied salve to help calm it. That sort of worked.

As I was getting dressed I looked at my deodorant stick and I calculated that I have had the same deodorant stick since... before covid?

Wow, is that possible?

This is a plant based product made with ingredients that are grown. Processed for this purpose and product but I bet it still has the ability to spoil.

I tossed the old stick and grabbed a new one. Within two days the rash was gone.

Deductive reasoning? Logic puzzle?

I can tell you that I don't care what it is but am beyond thrilled that I immediately gravitated towards solving the problem rather than assuming there was something new failing on my body.

I'm nowhere near 100% recovered yet but I'm ecstatic to be reacquainted with the calmer more common sense version of myself. Damn, it's good to see you girl! You've been missed.

Take a breath, a minute, a rest.

I hope you are all being kind to each other but especially yourself.

I know I'm not alone out here. Sending my spoonie brothers and sisters a million hugs and all the mojo you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Love, Melissa.

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